Japan men’s national basketball team head coach Julio Lamas has called up 20 players for training camps ahead of this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.
Twelve were on the Argentine bench boss’ roster for the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China, where Japan finished 0-5.
Lamas selected 16 players from the B. League, including former league MVPs Makoto Hiejima (Utsunomiya Brex), Yuki Togashi (Chiba Jets Funabashi) and Daiki Tanaka (Alvark Tokyo).
NBA players Rui Hachimura (Washington Wizards) and Yuta Watanabe (Toronto Raptors) were also named to the provisional roster, as was Yudai Baba, who made his debut with the Melbourne United in Australia’s National Basketball League this season.
Hugh Watanabe, a 208-cm forward who plays under the name “Hugh Hogland” as a graduate student at the University of California, Davis, is the lone amateur player.
“I’m not just going to select the 12 best players (for the final Olympic roster),” said Lamas, who was speaking from Argentina during an online news conference. “I’m going to look at the combinations, how they play as a group and their chemistry. That’s going to be the criteria.”
The focus of the first training camp, scheduled for May 25 to June 1, will be conditioning. B. League players whose teams reach the semifinal round of the playoffs will not be expected to participate.
The team will hold a regular training camp from June 5 to 12. Lamas said that is when he’s planning to implement his offensive and defensive strategies.
Both training camps will be held at Tokyo’s National Training Center.
Other notable names selected for the roster are Joji and Kosuke Takeuchi (the veteran twins who play for the Alvark and Brex, respectively), sharpshooter Kosuke Kanamaru (SeaHorses Mikawa), Ryusei Shinoyama (Kawasaki Brave Thunders) and Aki Chambers (Yokohama B-Corsairs).
The Akatsuki Five will also travel to the Philippines for the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers in June, with a berth in August’s Asia Cup on the line.
There may also be a spot on the Olympic roster hanging in the balance.
Lamas called up Ryan Rossiter (Utsunomiya) and Gavin Edwards (Chiba) as naturalized players for the training camps. Nick Fazekas (Brave Thunders), the 2016-17 B. League MVP who played in the 2019 World Cup, did not make the provisional roster.
“We are going to have to choose either one (of Rossiter or Edwards) from our three games at the Asia Cup qualifying,” Lamas said.
Each nation is allowed one naturalized player on its Olympic roster.
It’s not yet known when Hachimura, Watanabe and Baba will return to Japan and their participation in the training camps likely depends on whether their respective teams make the playoffs and how deep they advance.
Lamas said that the team is planning to compete in a few warmup games before the Olympics.
Japan has been placed in Group C for the Tokyo Games with world champion Spain, Argentina and one of the winners of the upcoming Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
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